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Veterans ramping up as Vanderbilt hosts Morehead State

Sportsnaut
Oct 19, 2022; Mountain Brook, AL, USA; Vanderbilt player Jordan Wright answers questions during the SEC Tip Off 2022-23 Men's Basketball Media Day in Mountain Brook Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 at Grand Bohemian Hotel.

Basketball Sec Men S Basketball Media Day
Credit: Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

Fresh off an overtime win at Temple, Vanderbilt looks to get back to .500 when it hosts Morehead State on Friday night in Nashville.

The Commodores (1-2), who lost by 12 at home to Southern Miss despite being 16.5-point favorites, are coming off an 89-87 victory in which they were 3.5-point underdogs.

Vanderbilt took an 88-87 lead when Ezra Manjon hit a baseline jumper with 22 seconds left in overtime to put the Commodores ahead for good.

The difference between Vanderbilt in this game and its two losses was the play of its veterans. Manjon’s 11 points were as many as he’d had the previous two games, while he added nine assists and three rebounds against Temple.

Senior forward Liam Robbins had 20 points and three blocks in 25 minutes after tallying one block and seven points in 26 minutes spanning the previous two games. Junior forward Myles Stute’s 21 points (on 7-of-10 3-point shooting) were five more than his previous two games combined.

“Obviously, the first two didn’t turn out how we wanted them to,” Robbins said. “But we came in with a mindset like, those two games, we didn’t show our best selves, but we’re gonna do it tonight.”

Morehead State’s wins are against Bellarmine and Campbellsville-Harrodsburg. The Eagles (2-2) lost to both their Power Five opponents (Indiana and West Virginia) by a combined 53 points.

Mark Freeman (12.3), Alex Gross (11.3) and Drew Thelwell (10.8) are all scoring in double figures.

Gross, a 6-foot-10 transfer from the NAIA’s Olivet Nazarene, leads the team in rebounding (6.5).

Freeman, a transfer from Tennessee State, is one of 11 newcomers for coach Preston Spradlin, who is in his seventh season at the Ohio Valley Conference school. Freeman has scored in double figures in all three games he’s played.

Jake Wolfe (7.8) is the only returning starter for Morehead State. Despite that, the Eagles (who went to the 2021 NCAA tournament) were picked to win the OVC by the league’s coaches and media.

The Eagles shoot 78.8 percent from the foul line.

–Field Level Media